One feature I really love about the Kindle is the ability to download sample chapters of a book before deciding if you'd like to purchase it. Sometimes this saves a reader money. While historical settings and pirate ships interest me, Michael Crighton's Pirate Latitudes did not hold my interest enough to shell out cash. Delete.
Recently, I downloaded the first chapters of Ken Follett's Fall of Giants, but decided to read the reviews on Amazon before purchasing. Surprisingly, I found that the Kindle version lists for $19.99, but a hardback (shipped free because I'm a Prime member) is $18.00. The reviews were diverse: many five star reviews, and just as many disappointed compared with his previous bestsellers. Clicking on the 1-star reviews to understand their discontent, I found a lively discussion about the cost of the Kindle version.
Why did it cost $2 more to get the Kindle version versus a hard copy which would cost the publisher manufacturing costs, paper, handling, storage? Many considered this a swindle, and that Kindle prices should be significantly lower. You cannot, after all, resell the book, give it to a friend, or display it on your shelf.
The advantages? Follett is not know for his brevity, and carrying the 1000-page book around can be cumbersome. I could get the book right now, no waiting. I can search the book, make bookmarks, and share passages wirelessly to my Facebook account, a whole new aspect to reading.
My guess is, however, that the publishers are exploiting the instant gratification for U.S. customers who want to read a bestseller right now, and for international customers who might have to wait longer and pay more for shipping. There is a shipping cost as well for those that are not U.S. Amazon Prime members It is likely that authors do not benefit at all from the price differential.
My decision? The book seems interesting, although some reviewers said that by the end of such a lengthy tome, they were glad to be finished with it. I will wait until the price drops. The Pillars of the Earth is only $6.99, and I can wait.